Crime, Published Articles

Taxi assault nets six years in prison

Originally published in Medicine Hat News

A man who pled guilty to kidnapping a Medicine Hat cab driver and sexually assaulting her before driving to Calgary and abandoning her was sentenced Friday to six years imprisonment.

Shaun Thomas Baldhead, 29, appeared from the prisoner’s box at his sentencing at Medicine Hat Provincial Court.

“What you were involved in that night from a societal perspective is reprehensible,” Judge Eric Brooks said in his ruling. “I don’t think there are very many people who can excuse that.”

With credit for time served, Baldhead will spent 1,191 days in prison, or 3.26 years.

According to the agreed statement of facts, on Nov. 24, 2016 around 10 p.m., Baldhead approached the victim’s taxi posing as a fare.

He asked if she could pull over at a bank so he could withdraw money.

When he returned to the vehicle, he got into the back seat and told her he had a gun before taking over the taxi.

He then parked in the Riverside neighbourhood, forcing the victim to perform oral sex on him.

Baldhead then drove the victim to Calgary, stopping for gas briefly in Brooks.

He told her that if she moved, he would shoot the attendant.

Baldhead also used the victim’s cell phone to make multiple calls, threatening to murder her family if she told anyone about the kidnapping and sexual assault.

Around 2 a.m. he dropped the victim off in the middle of Calgary.

After she provided a detailed description of Baldhead to Calgary police, including a tattoo on his left cheek, the accused was found on a Calgary Transit bus.

He was on the bus because he had left the cab in a field, setting it on fire from the inside.

The victim needed to take four months off work as a result from the trauma she endured.

Brooks noted how the totalled vehicle was the victim’s “sole source of income.”

During the sentencing submissions in April, the Crown requested six to eight years, later asking for nine.

Defence lawyer Robin McIntyre requested four years and eight months.

As aggravating factors, Brooks cited the victim’s vulnerability as a 50-year-old working grandmother, the fact the kidnapping took place over a span of four hours and that he threatened to shoot her twice.

Although Baldhead is young, “he is quite mature with regard to his relationship to the court system,” Brooks noted.

He cited as mitigating factors Baldhead’s guilty plea, which spared the victim of having to re-live her trauma through cross-examination, his co-operation with police and the Gladue report that was prepared for him as an aboriginal offender, which outlines a background Brooks called “tragic beyond description” and “a recipe for disaster.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Baldhead is required to pay $820 restitution for the taxi’s ticketing and towing in Calgary.

“It is difficult for me to imagine what she went through that night,” Brooks said, referring to the victim.

After she presented her victim impact statement to the court in July, Baldhead expressed his remorse, apologizing to the victim.

“I hope (it was) sincere,” Brooks concluded Friday.

Crime, Published Articles

Man gets one year for assault on ex-girlfriend

Originally published in Medicine Hat News

A man with an extensive criminal record pled guilty Friday to physically abusing his ex-girlfriend over a span of five months, receiving a sentence of one year in jail.

Matthew Pearton appeared in person as a prisoner at the Court of Queen’s Bench, where he pled guilty to assault but not guilty to sexual assault.

The sexual assault charge was stayed by the Crown.

According to a joint submission of facts, police were called to the victim’s residence on April 5, 2017, to check on her well-being.

When they arrived, the victim became emotional, telling the police Pearton was regularly pinching and hitting her without provocation.

He also occasionally bit her on her breasts and elsewhere.

Pearton would sometimes hold her down on the ground, which the Crown said is “not an assault, but part of the context.”

Police took pictures of bruises on her arms, breast and legs.

When they were in a relationship, which began in December 2016, the accused became controlling, keeping the victim’s money and deciding when to give it to her, as well as forbidding her from seeing friends.

Although there was no official victim impact statement, the prosecutor spoke on her behalf.

“She continues to be terrified of the accused,” Crown prosecutor Jase Cowan said, adding that she fears for the safety of her young children.

Defence lawyer Marc Crarer said his client suffers from “cognitive difficulties … in the intellectually deficient range.”

He said Pearton has not had “a very positive experience” being born and raised in Medicine Hat.

The accused is currently in a new relationship, which by contrast Crarer called a “really positive” experience.

He has a child with his new girlfriend, who resides with Pearton and his mother in Roblin, Man.

“He’s made up his mind that once he’s released he’ll return to Manitoba,” said Crarer.

Pearton’s substantial criminal record began in 2016, when he was fined for theft under $5,000 and a breach of bail conditions.

Later that year, he was fined for mischief.

Earlier this year, Pearton was found guilty of uttering threats and breaching a no-contact order with the same victim, for which he was sentenced to jail time with probation.

In their joint submission for the assault charge, the Crown and defence requested another year in jail, as well as another year probation.

“This is a true quid pro quo, given the charges the Crown isn’t pursuing,” the prosecutor said, referring to the stayed sexual assault charge.

“The conduct he’s admitted to is serious enough to warrant the sentence proposed,” added Crarer.

Justice William Tilleman agreed with the joint submission, citing the “principles of proportionality.”

Pearton will go to jail for 354 days, due to credit for 11 days time served, and will serve probation for a year after.

He will also be forbidden from communicating with the victim or any witnesses and cannot attend within two blocks of the victim’s home or workplace.

The accused declined comment when asked by the judge if he wanted to address the court.

Crime, Published Articles

Family of four former Hatters reported missing from Surrey

Originally published in Medicine Hat News

A family of four originally from Medicine Hat were declared missing from Surrey on Tuesday evening, according to the local RCMP detachment.

The Anderson family was reported missing to the Surrey RCMP by another family member.

Missing are Sheldon, the father, a 43-year-old who is about 5-foot-10, weighing about 190 pounds with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes; Nona, the mother, 45, who is about 5-foot-9, with a medium build and long blonde hair; Chanel, their 13-year-old daughter, who’s approximately 5 feet, with a thin build and long blonde hair; and daughter Mariah, 10, about 4 feet with a thin build and long blonde hair.

Their names all appear in a Medicine Hat News obituary published in 2014 for Sheldon’s step-father Maurice Cote.

It’s unclear when they moved to Surrey.

They were last seen on Sept. 9, and contacted Sept. 10 around 9 p.m. by a relative.

Their vehicle — a 2002 tan-coloured Toyota Sienna mini-van with Alberta licence plate BGZ-2221 — was last seen Sept. 11 leaving the parking garage of their Surrey home.

“They have not been seen or heard from since,” read a Surrey RCMP news release.

“Investigators believe they could possibly be driving to Alberta.”

The Surrey RCMP was unable to comment by press time on this suspicion.

The release also noted the family frequently visits Minoru Park in nearby Richmond.

Medicine Hat Police Service Insp. Joe West says the case is on their radar and they’re working together with the Surrey RCMP “to ensure we cover all the bases.”

This could involve MHPS interviewing local relatives, he added.

“We got a tip from the public that the family may live here and once we knew that, we contacted the Surrey RCMP and will offer any assistance,” said West.

Anyone with further information about the Andersons’ whereabouts is asked to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502, MHPS at 403-529-8481, or anonymously via CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Crime, Published Articles

135 days in jail for man guilty of publishing nude photos of his ex

Originally published in Medicine Hat News

A man who pled guilty to publishing an indecent picture of his ex-girlfriend without her permission and assaulting her, as well as causing mischief and failing to stop at the scene of an accident from a separate incident, received a 135-day jail sentence and $1,500 in fines.

Justin Kleinsasser, who has the word “Grace” tattooed on his neck, appeared at Medicine Hat Provincial Court in person Thursday.

With 75 days in jail served already, Kleinsasser will serve the remaining 60 intermittently on weekends, beginning Sept. 15. He will have six months to pay the fines.

According to a joint submission of facts, on July 14, 2015, the victim found nude photos on the accused’s cellphone, which had been uploaded to a sexual website without her permission.

The week prior — on July 5 — Kleinsasser and the victim got into an altercation near the front door of their residence in Lethbridge.

He pulled her outside by her shoulder in her underwear and locked the door.

After repeated knocking, Kleinsasser let her back in. She had bruises on her left upper arm and shoulder areas.

Defence lawyer Lyndon Heidinger said the victim was twice Kleinsasser’s age and introduced him to drugs, namely crack and cocaine.

“He obviously didn’t handle that well,” said Heidinger.

On Dec. 11, 2015, Kleinsasser called the Fort Macleod RCMP to report a stolen vehicle, a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500.

“That was a false stolen vehicle he called in,” said the Crown prosecutor.

The accused was in the truck he reported stolen, which he drove into a field.

He failed to appear in court on July 26 and 27, 2016.

Kleinsasser also pled guilty to an attempt to escape custody after police escorted him to the hospital on Nov. 23, 2017, and he attempted to escape from the waiting room.

His only prior criminal record is for failure to attend court, for which he received five days in jail.

Kleinsasser was sentenced to 90 days in jail for the publishing indecent material and assault charges, 30 days for the mischief charge, 15 days for the attempt to escape custody, an $1,000 fine for refusing to stop at the scene of an accident and $250 for each failure to appear in court.

In addition to the jail time and fines, Kleinsasser is prohibited from going within two blocks of his ex-girlfriend’s residence and is prohibited from using the Internet, except for a GPS to get to and from work.

Crime, Published Articles

Former police commission member charged with fraud

Originally published in Medicine Hat News

A former member of the Medicine Hat Police Commission was arrested Tuesday after a six-month fraud investigation alleging he stole more than $1 million from the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education.

Rolf Traichel, 45, was charged with three offences — one charge each of fraud over $5,000, possessing proceeds of crime and money laundering.

In a statement to the media, the school board confirmed Traichel’s employment, but wouldn’t comment further.

“As this is a legal matter before the courts, no further details will be disclosed at this time,” the statement said.

Police say Traichel worked for the board’s IT department.

Insp. Tim McGough says that although the offences allegedly occurred between 2010 and 2016, and Traichel sat on the police commission from 2012 to 2017, he is not suspected of any wrongdoing against MHPS.

“Based on the investigation to date, it is believed that the alleged fraud was isolated to one organization,” a release from the police read.

The investigation into Treichel began in January, and the Catholic board has co-operated with police investigators.

Like the school board, McGough was unable to provide much information beyond what was written in a release, such as how much of the funds have been recovered by police.

“That’s before the courts, so I can’t get into that,” he said. “That will come out in the court proceedings.”

Traichel was released on his own recognizance with conditions.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 11 at Medicine Hat Provincial Court.

Crime, Published Articles

Medicine Hat police lauded for arrest, charges of inciting hate

Originally published in Medicine Hat News

Two national organizations have praised Medicine Hat Police Services for the arrest of a local man for inciting hatred after discovering in his residence anti-Semitic literature and a cache of guns with the serial numbers removed.

Richard Warman, a lawyer and board member of the Canada Anti-Hate Network, says this arrest is of particular interest to his organization, given the potentially lethal combination of hate literature and illegal firearms.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that hate propaganda has a purpose, and the purpose is to isolate and demonize the target communities and make them seem as legitimate targets,” he said.

“The last thing Canada or the world needs is another Alexandre Bissonnette who walks into a mosque and starts shooting. Although, in this case, I understand that the material was largely anti-Semitic, rather than anti-Muslim.”

According to the 2016 federal census, there are 115 Jews in Medicine Hat out of a population of 62,935.

Warman says it’s common for some racists and anti-Semites to have limited contact with the community they target.

“They call that ‘Platonic anti-Semitism,’ which is where the person has very little or no connection with the Jewish community … but they have this irrational hatred or fear of the target community,” he said.

“There’s this real rise in xenophobia, and suspicion and fear of people who don’t look like white or … what’s perceived as traditional Canadians. I think the political climate has contributed to that a great deal.”

Daniel Koren, a spokesman for B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, says his organization has also witnessed an increase in racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents across the country in recent years, which are often framed in xenophobic terms.

“We’re seeing a bit of a resurgence of anti-Semitism on the far right-wing, and this is normally the type of messaging you hear from promoters of such hatred,” he said. “This doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident.”

B’nai Brith puts out a yearly audit of anti-Semitic incidents, which Koren said shows a steady increase over the past five years.

“It does seem that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are feeling more emboldened now to come out publicly and promote their ideologies,” he said, adding the Internet has fueled this confidence.

“The Internet certainly enables people to be able to come out and express their views, whereas before it was always on the fringe … People are feeling that they’re able to say whatever they want.”

He adds that Medicine Hat Police Service charging an individual with willfully promoting hatred should serve as an example to other police forces across the nation.

“This person had a cache of weapons and ammunition,” he said. “God knows the type of potential tragedy that could have taken place had he not been apprehended.”

Loki Hulgaard, 35, faces 14 charges, including one count of inciting hatred.

In addition to the guns, ammunition and hate literature, police seized numerous computers and USB drives from his residence, which they’re in the process of examining to determine a connection, if any, with similar incidents across the city.

In July, posters were found at the Westminster United Church that read “Immigration = White Genocide.”

The church’s Rev. Jan Stevenson also expressed her gratitude to MHPS.

“I’m glad they found him. I hope they can help him and at least keep him from spreading hatred,” she said. “When you put that mindset together with weapons, it is not a pretty picture.”

Crime, Published Articles

Hatter charged with inciting hatred

Originally published in Medicine Hat News

A Medicine Hat man has been charged with inciting hatred, as well as firearms offences, after a local business owner reported to police on July 31 seeing him in possession of Canadian currency with anti-Semitic slogans printed on it.

Police found several $5, $20 and $50 bills with “Jewish white genocide” and “ZOG” marked on them in a backpack.

White genocide is a conspiracy theory that immigrants are being brought to Canada to eliminate the white race, while ZOG stands for “Zionist Occupied Government,” which posits that a cabal of Zionist Jews secretly control the government.

Upon arresting Loki Hulgaard, 35, and executing a search warrant, police found numerous computers, USB drives, white supremacist literature, four firearms, two of which were high-powered rifles with serial numbers removed, more than 1,200 rounds of ammunition, high capacity magazines and stickers that read “Immigration = White Genocide.”

Police also found the stamps used to mark the currency with the anti-Semitic slogans.

Posters with that slogan were found this summer at the Westminster United Church, which the reverend promptly reported to the police.

MHPS Insp. Tim McGough says police will be looking through the computers and USB drives to see if the two incidents are connected.

“This doesn’t just happen on a whim,” he said, adding the investigation is ongoing.

“We’ve also been investigating numerous stickers that have been posted throughout the city, so we’ve been trying to locate this individual and trying to figure out who he is and what he was up to.”

Hulgaard faces 14 charges in total — one count of inciting hatred in public, two of possessing a firearm with the serial number removed, four of unsafe storage of a firearm, three of possessing a prohibited device and four of unathorized possession of a firearm.

He was released Aug. 2 on $4,000 no-cash recognizance with numerous conditions, and is scheduled to appear in Medicine Hat Provincial Court on Thursday.

Anyone with further information is urged to contact Const. Eric Marshall of the Priority Street Crimes Unit.